Celebrating poetry month with Whidbey Island poets

Posted in Duff 'n Stuff

Duff ’n Stuff, April 8, 2013

April is National Poetry Month and I’d like to share some poetry with you by a few of Whidbey Island’s poets. Look for their work in local bookstores; take in a poetry reading at the library, local café or theater.

I have always loved the effect poetry has on me; it’s immediate wave of phrenic heat and reveal of subjective epiphany. Read these poems; soak them in; see what happens. Happy April!

I Wanna Die Nice and Easy

Pack up the extravagant life machines
and leave in your silent shoes
with your plans for the future.

Call in the musicians, the drums as well.
Send the harps home for the births.
Bring in my children.

my superstars, I want to tell them
there are no rules, only the obligations of the
heart.  Refuse all other regurgitations and the
cold fat of small talk: bold conversation and
stillness is sacred.  Open the windows for the
root smell, the winter’s sleeping.

It is the earth, the landscape,that makes this
so difficult.  The row of trees, the hills,
the frost on the ridges, the
tufts of grass at the closing of the gate,
the grand sweep of it all.
These are the riches and I the miser.

Give me one last day walking on the headlands,
Also, I want to repeat my homecomings —
the sight of the cathedral at Christmas,
the kettle on in the quiet of the kitchen
and the level-headedness of the day’s chores,
the innocence before the sobering truths of history.

Do not rush me.  Your prayers are good,
but they may be too confining
for the place I am going, so keep them brief.

Light the candles and the fire, and bring in the
man I have loved and failed to love over the smallest things.
I want to kiss him for his constancy,

his belief in my goodness even when it was a scarcity,
for his largeness through all my philosophies
that at times did not include him.

Let me feel the sanity of his strong fingers
and giving palms.  Stay, and let me die nice, nice and easy.


"Afternoon in the Orchard" linocut by WLM visual art member Linanne Armstrong.

“Afternoon in the Orchard” linocut by WLM visual art member Linnane Armstrong.

When days unraveled like late summer roses

Days unraveled like late summer roses
loosened from their core,
Petals, their veins leaking heat, scorched
the dry lawn where we lay.
My surprise was that nothing stopped
when you died. Fall
Came along, then clutch of winter,
spring sputtered by.
Summer again. Absent of sun.


What We’ve Forgotten

Maps are useless.
One can only get there

riding the trail of a dry,
fractious wind.

On the secret sea.
The one cartographers so feared

they placed it beyond
the lip of the world.

The one the wise
avoid dreaming about.

A place of slaked lime
and furnace sun,

cliffs like giants’ bones bleached
to chalk. A place

of lead whites, velvet
ivory brush, which fools

the eye with blinding glee. Whose
eye, though? Who gets this far

into such vacuum of air,
into this mistake of salt

and soil hardened and boiled?
Meet me on this island, beloved.

Meet me where we are certain
to die and resurrect.

The island of no name, beloved.
The place where gods are made

to be crucified.


Visual arts member Penny Bauer's "Na Makana" is one of a series of photos that celebrates Hawaiian culture.  (https://www.whidbeylifemagazine.org/visual/penny-kaela-bauer/)

Visual arts member Penny Bauer’s “Na Makana” is one of a series of photos that celebrates Hawaiian culture.

Kauai Flora

Petals pale as moonlight floating on surf—
Lavender throats funnel your fragrance.
Under trade winds lifting palm fringes high,
Marled bark scales your winter limbs.
Essence of royals, blooms woven as leis.
Ringed round your throat, gold creeps
Inward, a circle of sun beating time
Against an ever-crashing tide.

How does it happen, this
Insane riot of color, this orange
Blaze flung face forward
Into a world pale as washed sand?

So little time; such a strong story
Can only be conveyed by this:
Understanding Orange, the rebel
Statement shouted toward the sun.



Lying on cushion of white clover
I spread arms and rock hips.
Watch night darken sky.

Alone, dusky winds
blow cool feathers
across smooth bare skin.

Gods touch what they love.


WLM visual arts member Meredith MacLeod's mixed-media "Man with Friends."

WLM visual arts member Meredith MacLeod’s mixed-media piece is titled “Man with Friends.”



unhinge me
their raw edginess a glimpse
into hot dark underground

ignorance is the price those of us
who don’t descend are glad to pay
nice to have glinting bauble
rare earth powering our e-device

those 91 asphyxiated at Sunshine
remind us this is hard mean work
fear and adrenalin mix down there
dripping heat back-grounded with

drilling    blasting    mining    music
hard rock with a heavy metal beat
that stands your hairs on end


You Don’t Have to Be Too Brilliant

This fumbling old romantic soul
Picks up a rake or anything to hand
To beat the air. The truth is
I am conducting orchestras,
My baton enticing the player
Who recognizes and shares passion,
Which could be so in the matter of cooking—
Adding the right herb with a flourish, then
Walking away, hands raised with the pride of it.

I suppose it is alright to brandish
These scattered talents and not be awed
In the presence of laureates and Nobel Prize
I am good at pruning the branches
Of the plum tree to make it
Supplicate the sky, poetically.


From the heart,
Patricia Duff

Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist, a freelance writer and the editor of this magazine.


Upcoming poetry events: 

  • Poets Daniel Moore and Gina Marie Mammano read at Anchor Books and Coffee in Clinton from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17 .
  • Whidbey poet Marci Ameluxen holds a book release for her collection “Lean House” from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 5 at Anchor Books and Coffee in Clinton. These events are co-sponsored by Clinton Library and the Anchor Monthly Reading Series.
  • Poet Judith Adams reads from “Lark’s Rising Shepherd’s Whistle” in an evening of poetry and music at 7:30 p..m. Saturday, May 11 at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley.
  • Keep an eye out for the next season of the Whidbey Island Arts Council Poetry Slams hosted by Jim Freeman at the local libraries. Email Freeman at fun@whidbey.com for slam info.




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